Monthly Tech-Tip from Tony Hansen SignUp

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The recipe mixing area of Tony Hansen

This is my lab work area of mineral, frit, chemical, stain and metal oxide powders for mixing test glazes and clay bodies. Not shown is my propeller mixer, perhaps the most important piece of equipment we have. And my plaster table for dewatering clay body slurries. Building up something like this, over time, is practical for any serious potter, most of these powders are inexpensive. Within minutes I can plan and enter a recipe into my Insight-live.com account, give it a code number, print it and weight it out.

The recipe mixing area of Tony Hansen

Related Pictures

Why does Tony Hansen take months to unload his kilns?

I love making pottery, but I love the technical side more. I searched for all the test specimens in this 2020 load of cone 10 reduction ware first, then pushed it back in and forgot about it. For three months! I really anticipate the test results (I am developing and adjusting many of bodies and glazes at any given time). The data and pictures for them go into my account at insight-live.com, it enables me to compare the chemistry and physical properties of recipes and materials side-by-side. That teaches me which roads to abandon and which ones to pursue. My last kiln went back in for six weeks, so things are getting worse! If you are wondering, we use the C10RPL firing schedule.

A must-have: Laboratory variable speed propeller mixer

If you are at all serious about testing glazes and clay bodies, you need one of these. There are other methods, but nothing else comes close to this. It is the most valuable and frequently used tool in any ceramic bodies and glazes testing lab or classroom. These are expensive new, this Lightnin 1/20 hp variable speed cost more than $1000 many years ago, now it could be $4000! But you can get them used on ebay.com. I adapted a mount (to give it vertical adjustment) from a hardware store. Propellers are also expensive, but you can design and 3D print them yourself or have them printed at a place like shapeways.com.

Why you need to make your own glazes, fire your own kilns

Are you a potter that depends on glazes made by others? Do you have your ware fired in someone else's kiln? Cannot mix clay body tests? Then the evolution of the quality and aesthetics of your work is being stunted. This mug is a good example of why. This is G3933, version 1 of an oatmeal we made by adding iron, rutile and tin to a 75:25 blend of our base matte and glossy glazes. It is crawling at a few sharp angles of the incised decoration, that means it needs a little CMC gum. And, it is not quite matte enough, we need to switch to an 80:20 blend. Third, the red-burning body gives better color at cone 5, and this glaze melts well in a C5DHSC slow cool firing. So I will include it with other cone 5 bodies and glazes we are testing (because I want to move down from cone 6 to save energy and elements). Finally, I would like the glaze a little darker so I will test increases in the rutile and iron. All of these changes are on my radar because I make my own glazes and have my own test kiln.

Links

Glossary Ceramic Material
Ceramic materials are employed in the ceramic industry to make glazes, bodies, engobes and refractories. We study them at the mineral, chemical and physical levels.
Glossary Tony Hansen
Tony Hansen is the author of Digitalfire Insight, Digitalfire Reference Library and Insight-Live.com, he is a long-time potter, ceramic lab-technician and body and glaze developer.
Glossary Slurry Up
The process of slurrying a clay body powder and dewatering it on a plastic slab or table.

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